223709
223680

BC  

Social media magic: B.C. couple tracks down photographer of mountain proposal

The magic of social media

The power of social media has connected a recently engaged couple with the stranger who took photographs of their mountain-top proposal. 

Abbey Ruth and Jeremie Lacasse were hiking to Floe Lake in Kootenay National Park on Aug. 8. Little did Ruth know that her boyfriend had a surprise planned. 

When they got to the top of the lake, after a treacherous and rainy journey, he started scouting out the perfect location to propose. The only problem was he didn’t have a photographer to capture the special moment.

“It was raining and just terribly cold when we got there,” she says. "The weather started to clear up a little bit, and we went down to the beach.”  

Lacasse ran back up to their tent and spotted a woman with a large professional camera nearby. He went over and asked if she'd be willing to photograph him popping the question. 

After returning to the beach, he gave a ‘peace sign’ to the woman, who was hiding in a bush. Without Ruth even noticing, he surprised her by getting down on one knee. 

“The stars kind of aligned,” says Ruth. "We were making soup and then all of a sudden, Jeremy asked me to marry him, which was really cool.” 

The proposal went perfectly and the photographer captured breathtaking images. 

“Laura captured the moment and it was just really cool,” she says. 

The couple then returned home to Vernon; however, after seven weeks, they still had not received the photographs. Ruth says they were worried their contact information got lost.

So, she decided to post on social media in hopes of finding the photographer. Her post was viewed thousands of times and started to spread across British Columbia. 

"My fiancé and I are on a mission to find some photos of us,” she posted. "We met a woman named Laura, who graciously and excitedly hid in the bush and took photos while we got engaged. We shared our contact information with her but didn’t get her information, and fear she may have lost our info.”

To her surprise, lots of strangers wanted to help.

“Lots of people saw it, were commenting, were sharing it and telling us that they hope we find Laura,” she says. 

Their leap of faith worked and they were able to find Laura Zeilke, who lives in Victoria. 

“I was hidden behind a tree and I was trying to be as quiet as possible,” Zeilke tells Glacier Media.

Zielke was committed to getting the perfect shot for the couple. 

“I probably took about 300 or 400 pictures because I was a bit worried about missing the moment.”

Zeilke, who is a hobbyist photographer, explains how on weekends she spends her time hiking and had not yet had the chance to edit the the couple's photos.

"I haven't edited any of my photos from any of my hiking adventures this summer. I’m gone pretty much every weekend,” she says. “I actually thought of it the other day.”

Her hiking friends were the ones who saw Ruth’s post and quickly messaged her. 

"I felt bad and made sure I edited and got them to her right away,” Zeilke says. “It was really cool to see the hiking community want to help."

Ruth wants to thank everyone who shared the post.

“Social media brought it together," she says. "It’s a little bit wild but also quite special.” 



223619


Overdoses from smoking toxic drugs outpace B.C. prevention sites

Smoking drugs biggest killer

Nearly two-thirds of the overdose deaths in British Columbia this year came after smoking illicit drugs, yet only 40 per cent of the supervised consumption sites in the province offer a safe place to smoke, and the chief coroner says that needs to change.

Lisa Lapointe said the latest data show 65 per cent of overdose deaths in 2023 came after smoking drugs, compared to 15 per cent involving injection, 14 per cent snorting and five per cent from oral consumption. The coroners' office notes that people can consume using multiple methods.

Also in the data, the updated overdose death toll since the province declared a public health emergency in April 2016. Almost 13,000 have died since then, more than 1,600 this year.

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions said of the 47 overdose prevention sites in B.C., only 19 provide the option to smoke drugs.

B.C.'s original supervised consumption site is a safe injection site, but Lapointe said methods for consuming drugs have shifted over time.

"If we truly want to reduce the risk, and reduce the numbers of deaths, and help make our communities safer, then there needs to be an acknowledgment that providing a safe place for people to use drugs is critically important," Lapointe said.

"And that includes a safe place to smoke drugs."

Those who study the topic say a combination of stigma, bureaucracy and a lack of political will are all obstacles to setting up more sites for smoking drugs.

The latest analysis of the deaths contrasts with data from January 2016 to July 2017, following the declaration of the emergency, which show that one-third of deaths came through injecting drugs, while 36 per cent who died smoked drugs.

While Lapointe's office has not made any formal recommendations, she said she's heard from community groups that there are not enough safe spaces generally to use drugs, but particularly not to smoke.

"Clearly, smoking drugs is much more popular now than injecting drugs. If we want to keep people safe, if we want to reduce the death toll from the opioid crisis, then we need to be meeting people where they are, and certainly (there's) a need to adapt policies, whatever they may be," she said.

Nicole Luongo, the systems change co-ordinator for the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, based at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., said the rules around setting up safe inhalation sites are overly complicated but don't have to be, given the extra powers the government has to act under the emergency declaration.

"We are seeing harm reduction sites still being tailored around injection and the ability to introduce inhalation sites being really mired in bureaucracy," Luongo said.

"And they're expensive as well, to introduce the kind of equipment that would reduce risk for outside observers."

In a statement, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions says local health authorities are responsible for the operation of those services and they have been working to increase the number of inhalation sites.

It says considerations for implementing inhalation sites include whether there is a suitable outdoor space, particularly during the winter, occupational health and safety concerns and worker safety issues, primarily due to specialized ventilation requirements.

In B.C., community groups have set up observed inhalation sites — usually in tents outdoors — where peers monitor users for an overdose, but Luongo said they can face opposition from cities even though a 2016 provincial ministerial order allows overdose prevention services anywhere they are needed.

Nevertheless, she said local governments continue to pass bylaws that include zoning restrictions that are preventing the opening of both inhalation and safe injection sites.

"At times, we have seen progress being made toward the opening of a site and then, due to community pushback, the municipality will renege"

Luongo said that level of stigma is a sign for Ottawa to declare a nationwide emergency, and both the province and the federal government need to "actually enforce pathways for implementing things like harm reduction services, as well as access to a regulated safe supply with various options for administration."

B.C.'s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jennifer Whiteside was not made available for an interview.

In a statement, she said the government is doing everything it can to save lives and separate people from toxic drugs.

"That’s why our government has rapidly scaled up overdose prevention and harm reduction measures since 2017. This includes significantly increasing the number of overdose prevention services from one site in 2016 to 47 sites as of July 2023, including 19 sites offering inhalation services."

Luongo said in the early years of the crisis there was more trust in smoking stimulants, which were less likely to be altered. However, that's no longer the case, with toxic additives being included in everything, she said.

She said Canada's safe supply programs, which provide regulated versions of some criminalized drugs, need to be expanded and include more inhalable options.

The province is on pace for another record-breaking year of deaths from toxic drugs in 2023. The Coroners Service said unregulated drug toxicity is the leading cause of death in the province for people aged 10 to 59, accounting for more deaths than homicides, suicides, accidents and natural diseases combined.

 



Federal riding change officially cuts out chunk of West Van, adds it to North Van

Federal riding change

The heart of West Vancouver is now officially part of North Vancouver – at least where federal elections are concerned.

Changes to electoral boundaries on the North Shore that carve out the main business district of West Vancouver and plunk it in the North Vancouver riding became official Sept. 22, according to Elections Canada. Any elections called after April 22, 2024 will be conducted under the new boundaries.

Under the change, announced in February this year, the easternmost part of West Vancouver – including Park Royal, Sentinel Hill and all of Ambleside (everything east of 21th Street) – has been cut from the West Vancouver electoral district and added to the North Vancouver riding. (A previous plan had recommended adding half of Ambleside, from 15th Street east, to the neighbouring riding.)

The change was made by an independent commission charged with re-drawing Canada’s electoral map to make the population of ridings across the country more equal in size.

But it also came in the face of significant community opposition.

Patrick Weiler, the Liberal MP currently representing the West Vancouver riding, described the plan last year as “cutting the heart out of West Vancouver to add it as an appendage to another riding.”

Weiler said when he went door-to-door in the area impacted by the change, most people weren’t aware the change was being considered, and those who were aware were opposed to it.

John Weston, the former Conservative MP for the riding, also opposed the change, as did residents of West Vancouver.

But those objections weren’t enough to change the commission’s recommendation. In a report, the commission wrote it was aware of public concerns but said the existing riding of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sky to Sky represents too great a population, and that dividing West Vancouver was “the only fair and appropriate resolution to the electoral district’s high population.”

The redrawn electoral map, which would push boundaries of all three North Shore ridings north and west, is part of a larger jigsaw puzzle considered by the electoral boundaries commission as it added one riding to the province of B.C. The additional riding is needed because of population growth in the province. But the creation of a new riding in the southern Interior had a domino effect of boundary alterations in other areas of the province, including several ridings in the Lower Mainland.

Under the riding changes, all West Vancouver between Burrard Inlet and Highway 1 east of 21st Street has been added to the North Vancouver riding, which will be known as Capilano-North Vancouver. The name of the West Van riding will also change to Howe Sound-West Vancouver.

Chunks of Lynn Valley previously in the North Vancouver riding–including much of the area to the south of Lynn Valley Road and upper Lynn Valley to the east of Mountain Highway, as well as Capilano University–have also be added to the Burnaby-North Seymour riding. That riding is itself a product of an earlier redrawing of the election map that created a riding spanning Burrard Inlet.

Politically, removing Ambleside from the West Vancouver riding wouldn’t necessarily benefit either Liberals or Conservatives, as the area tends to split its votes between those parties.



223004


Senior donkey surrendered to BC SPCA finds new home thanks to viral social media post

Senior donkey finds home

The BC SPCA shared some happy news on Friday, announcing that a senior donkey has officially found his forever retirement home

Frank, a 22-year-old donkey, went viral on BC SPCA social media accounts at the beginning of September.

"This gentle soul garnered a lot of attention while he was looking for his forever home because of his big heart and sweet face," the SPCA said in their news release.

"Frank first came into BC SPCA care when his owners were no longer able to support his medical needs. After being examined by a veterinarian, Frank was found to have pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) – commonly referred to as Equine Cushing’s Disease."

While PPID is a hormone disorder that can lead to complications and other serious health issues when left untreated, the SPCA said with access to the appropriate medical care, a donkey with PPID can live a very happy life.

Frank was also suffering from severe dental disease and had several missing teeth which was giving him trouble with eating his food. The SPCA has provided him with dental treatment since his arrival.

The senior donkey now called Charlie, found his forever retirement home thanks to the power of social media and lucky timing.

"It was a connection of fate when Charlie’s new guardian, Sheri, and her barn manager, Kate, found him online, just one week after Sheri’s 40-year-old rescue donkey sadly crossed the rainbow bridge," the SPCA said.

"Sheri has adopted several cats from the SPCA over the years, but Charlie is her first SPCA-adopted farm animal. A number of other animals also live on Sheri’s farm and keep Charlie company."

"In fact, the reason for his name change is because the family already owns a pony named Frankie! Despite Frank being the perfect name for a donkey, Sheri worried things could get confusing fast when Frankie the pony comes to visit from his current home in Southlands."

Sheri said that she saw a photo of him online and knew right away that he would fit in with her barn. She applied to adopt Charlie immediately and was approved upon review with certainty that her home was the best match for him.

“He is quite the affectionate donkey," Sheri added. “When it is breakfast time, he brays very loudly and then begins trotting over to get some scratches. Charlie loves to cruise around and has even figured out how to open the feed room door, so we’ve had to limit his time hanging out in the barn! He is the most energetic donkey I have ever had."

Charlie is now living a happy life with Sheri on her farm in the countryside. He spends most of his days with his new best friend Millie, a miniature mule whom Sheri rescued a week after Charlie came home as she thought the two would become good friends.

"The playful duo loves to hang out together on a trail beside the barn and even run around in the outdoor ring on the property. According to Sheri, Charlie is super talkative and loves his people – but mostly he loves Millie and she is never far from his side."

The SPCA said this story is a true testament to the saying “everyone deserves a second chance at love” as Charlie now has his second chance but is also bringing so much joy into every life he touches.



B.C.'s retiring top judge looks back on a half-century in law

Retiring judge looks back

After 14 years as British Columbia’s senior jurist, Chief Justice of B.C. Robert Bauman is hanging up his robes Oct. 1.

Actually, he may be recycling his robes but we’ll get to that.

In his position as the 13th ‘chief,’ Bauman is also the chief justice of the B.C. Court of Appeal, a position he has held since September 2013. In that capacity, he's also chief justice of the Court of Appeal for the Yukon.

He succeeded former chief justice Lance Finch, following in illustrious footsteps of former holders of the office, including former chief justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper appointed Bauman to the position following his 13 years on the province’s trial and appeal courts. The move came after being chief justice of B.C. Supreme Court, a position he took in September 2009 after a stint as an appeal court justice.

In an interview with Glacier Media, Bauman said he hopes he’s been able to put a public face on the province’s high courts. He said such a profile is important so that the public has an understanding of what the courts do, and can have faith in the system.

Bauman, 73, hails from Toronto but moved to Montreal as a young boy. There, he attended Loyola High School and Loyola College.

Soon, he obtained a degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Following his dreams, he attended the University of Toronto Law School. It was there he fell in love with his wife of 35 years, Sue, with whom he has two sons (he performed both their marriages).

With a law degree under his belt, Bauman looked west, setting his eyes on Prince George to begin practicing.

He became a partner at Wilson King, the firm founded by the father of J.O. Wilson, the eighth chief justice of the Supreme Court of B.C.

In 1978, he joined Kelowna’s Galt Wilson firm to practice under the firm name of Wilson Bauman.

Despite being early in his career, Bauman had already gained a reputation for administrative law and local government law.

Four years later, the family was on the move again, this time to Vancouver, where he joined the firm of Bull Housser and Tupper, practicing there for 14 years.

The criminal cases

Asked what cases captured his mind over the years, Bauman said such cases were mostly criminal ones.

“They’re all interesting,” he said. “They’re interesting because they’re important to the people in front of you.”

Still, Bauman singles out a few: the trial of Ravinder Singh “Robbie” Soomel for murder; the killing of Reena Virk by a group of teens; the fundamentalist Bountiful, B.C. Mormon polygamy constitutional case; and the Basi-Virk legal fees case connected to the 2003 sale of B.C.  Rail to Canadian National.

Soomel murdered Gurpreet Singh Sohi on Sept. 14, 2000. Bauman said Soomel entered a club and “fired aimlessly.”

He was convicted in 2003.

A B.C. Court of Appeal decision said Soomel “was 20 years old, he was the leader of a planned execution, organizing and enlisting four accomplices to murder Mr. Sohi, a rival drug dealer who was also only 20 years old.”

Soomel was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years, a sentence he appealed after serving 18 years.

“That was an awful case,” Bauman said.

Fourteen-year-old Reena Virk was brutally beaten and then killed under Victoria’s Craigflower Bridge in 1997. 

“After being assaulted by a group of eight teenagers under the south end of the bridge, Ms. Virk made her way across the bridge to the north end, There, she was again attacked, and then drowned in the Gorge waterway," one court ruling said.

One of those teens was Kelly Ellard. In 2005, Bauman sentenced her to life in prison calling Virk’s killing a senseless and remorseless crime.

He called the case “very difficult,” and said the teens beat Virk “violently and brutally over a couple of hours.” Bauman told Glacier Media the cases that haunt him are “the random acts of violence.”

However, it’s not all crime. Bauman said family law cases can be hard on a judge.

“Some of the family law cases were difficult,” he said. “Deciding who gets what, deciding if mom or dad can move away.”

Changes in the courts

Bauman isn't keen on calling the courts hidebound. Rather, he prefers calling them a conservative institution.

“We are methodical in adopting change,” he said, “because the traditions we are following are longstanding and stood the test of time."

That said, Bauman noted the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary for changes to happen fast in order for the courts to keep functioning.

The courts were back and functioning within two and a half weeks of the 2020 shutdown, he said, adding judges moved to adopt new technology and lawyers embraced electronic filing systems.

When it comes to the legal profession, he said things hadn’t changed for about a century when he was a young lawyer.

Now, he said, the pressures are high. Getting into scarce law school positions is a challenge and technology means lawyers are never far from the office.

“They’ve got challenges I never saw,” he said.

Bauman remains watchful yet fascinated on the issue of the use of artificial intelligence in the courts and practice of law. 

“I’m sure it offers all kinds of promise,” he said, adding opportunities to misuse the technology also remain.

Education and openness

Bauman is alarmed by polls indicating a low level of confidence in the courts. He said he understands people are feeling frustrated.

“I think it’s unfair at times,” he said, adding distrust in institutions is not uncommon.

Serving on a jury could change people’s minds, he said.

“They’re walking a mile in our shoes,” he said. “All of a sudden, their attitude changes. They see how hard it is to take it all in.”

Bauman recalled walking into a jury room to find a juror crying as they made a decision about another person’s life.

“I can see they have a newfound respect for what we do.” 

Bauman said public education about how the courts operate is important. He’s been open to journalists and others wanting to meet with him to discuss how the courts work.

“I’m a frank and candid person,” he said. “I try to answer questions directly.”

As in so many facets of life, the judge said, it comes down to communication and relationships.

“If you know each other and respect each other, life is much simpler,” he said. "The more that people understand how the system works . . . the more they understand what we do.”

Still, it’s not just education on the home front where Bauman's been involved.

In conjunction with the National Justice Institute and Global Affairs Canada, he’s been to Ukraine assisting judges there on issues of judicial independence, corruption and writing.

Retirement

As for his robes, Bauman said retiring judges try to put them out for new judges to buy.

The cost of the silk robes: about $4,000.

Meanwhile, packing boxes are scattered about his spacious, light-filled office at the Vancouver Law Courts.

With the courts moving into his rear-view mirror, Glacier Media asked Bauman what his plans for the future are.

“I’m reading some books,” he said with a grin. “Maybe go for a walk.”

Some of those walks may include golf, an area where he wants to hone his skills.



Williams Lake RCMP asking for public's help locating a missing 13-year-old girl

Missing 13-year-old girl

The Williams Lake RCMP is asking for the public’s assistance in finding a missing teenager.

Police are working on locating 13-year-old Bryanna Sellars, who was last seen in Williams Lake on Sept. 25, 2023, at Maranatha Christian School.

Sellars’ family reported her as missing after their attempts to contact and locate her were unsuccessful. They are also concerned about her health because she has a condition that requires daily medication.

Williams Lake RCMP said they believe Sellars is still in the Williams Lake area.

Sellars is described as an Indigenous female around 5’9, weighing 145 lbs with black hair and brown eyes

Those with any information about Sellars or where she might be are asked to contact Williams Lake RCMP at 250-392-6211 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.



Union of BC Indian Chiefs says National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day for learning

'Not a celebratory holiday'

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is reminding British Columbians that National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is not a celebratory holiday, but a day for “reflection, education, open dialogue, and action.”

Saturday is the first time B.C. is joining the federal government in recognizing the statutory holiday. The federal government began recognizing the day as a statutory holiday for federal workers and workers in federally-regulated workplaces in 2021.

In a statement Saturday, the UBCIC asks British Columbians to take the day to learn more about Canada's history with Indigenous people.

"UBCIC invites the public to stand in solidarity with First Nations, survivors and inter-generational survivors who have shared devastating truths about the atrocities committed by the church and government of Canada in Indian Residential Schools across the country, and their counterparts in Indian Boarding Schools south of the border," the organization says.

“Residential schools were a tool of assimilation and colonization and were directly connected to the institutionalized theft of unceded First Nations land and resources. For too long First Nations’ voices have been met with denial, skepticism, belittlement and silence.

“We encourage the public to come together with compassion and open-heartedness; we call on you to learn the truth about Canada’s racist and genocidal origins on stolen First Nations’ land and to understand the tremendous significance this day holds for First Nations communities, survivors and their families who continue to live with the traumas inflicted at Indian Residential Schools and other violent institutions.”

The UBCIC calls for more action on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, published in 2015. The Assembly of First Nations says just 13 of these recommendations have been completed so far, three of them in the last year.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is recognized as a statutory holiday for all workers in B.C., Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island and Yukon.

It was first established in 2013 as Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots initiative inspired by Phyllis Webstad's story of having the orange shirt her grandmother gave her taken away when she arrived at residential school.

The day was created to promote awareness and education of the residential school system and the impact it has had on Indigenous communities.



Red Pheasant Cree Nation declares state of emergency over drug activity

Drug emergency declared

The leadership of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation is declaring a state of emergency in response to the escalating drug problem in their community.

The First Nation is concerned about the increased violence and how it affects the safety of their people, they said in a media release issued Saturday by FSIN. Many residents are living in fear and are reluctant to cooperate with the RCMP because they fear retaliation. These calls for action come after seven people overdosed on drugs in one day.

“We must do something, and this is our first step; our leadership is taking urgent measures to address the drug problem in the community,” said Chief Lux Benson.

“We have issued a warning to evict the residents of houses where drug activity is suspected. We will disconnect utilities and board up the doors and windows. The drug problem in our community is a serious and complex issue that requires a coordinated and effective response from various stakeholders.”

Benson said one of the key partners we need in this effort is the RCMP who have the mandate and the expertise to enforce the law and disrupt the supply of illicit substances.

“We urge the RCMP to step up and help us address this challenge by increasing their presence, resources, and collaboration,” said Benson.

Red Pheasant First Nations say most overdoses could be attributed to addictions and mental health issues.

They are also calling on the federal health minister and the provincial government to sit down and discuss how they can deliver a healthcare strategy to their First Nations that will work.

“We call on all our leaders to act now and save lives. Red Pheasant believes these actions are necessary to protect the Treaty and the inherent rights of First Nations people and to ensure their health, well-being, and dignity.”

Red Pheasant Cree Nation is a Plains Cree First Nations located about 33 kilometres south of North Battleford.



Specially trained detection dog recently found invasive mussels on a boat entering B.C.

Invasive mussels found

A specially trained detection dog recently prevented invasive mussels from entering B.C. waters.

In a Facebook post, the Conservation Officer Service said a boat travelling from Ontario was recently stopped at a watercraft inspection station in Golden.

“Kilo, one of two BCCOS interdiction detection dogs trained to detect invasive mussels, indicated a positive presence – some mussels are so tiny they can be affixed to internal out-of-reach engine parts. Due to this, a mandatory 30-day quarantine period was issued for the watercraft, which was also sealed.” the Conservation Officers Service said.

“The inspection led to the discovery of invasive mussels, at which time specialized equipment was used to decontaminate the watercraft.”

The owner was given a $230 ticket for the unlawful transport of a prohibited species.

“This incident highlights the effectiveness of how mandatory watercraft inspection stations, and co-operation and collaboration with program partners, are helping to prevent invasive mussels from entering BC waterways,” the BCCOS says.



Victoria mayor urges province to tackle short-term rentals

Handling short-term rentals

If the province wants to help municipalities deal with the problem of short-term rental housing, it should take over the responsibility for regulating the industry. That was the reaction of Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto Friday, after provincial Housing Minister Ravi Khalon promised there would be new legislation introduced this fall to help cities get a better handle on the short-term rental industry.

Alto said if she had a wish list, the first item would be for the province to create regulations that are consistent across B.C. and that the province would enforce those rules.

“It would take the lion’s share of this off of our plates. Frankly, I would be willing to give that up if I had access to a provincial regulation that was provincially enforced,” she said. Given the size of the companies they are dealing with and the scale of the rental platforms, the companies ought to be dealing with a provincial or a national government, she said.

Alto said if the province isn’t contemplating that kind of legislation, her second choice would be to ensure municipalities have adequate resources to handle the market.

“One of the real frustrations is enforcement. We have a very limited bylaw division. We don’t have very many bylaw people, and they’re often doing things that are more urgent.”

Khalon did not go into specifics about what the province is planning for the short-term rental industry, but he told reporters the government has been made aware that cities are concerned about the lack of data on the number of short-term rentals and the lack of teeth in enforcement of existing rules.

“We believe with this legislation that the hosts, the companies that make a lot of money from the short-term rentals have a role and a responsibility to be part of the solution and help communities with their bylaws,” said Kahlon.

“The legislation will put in teeth to ensure that they have an important role to help local governments enforce the rules.”

Kahlon said short-term rental homes are diverting too much housing from the long-term rental market.

“We’ve heard from local governments and from various studies that have been done that they’re taking away rental housing that people desperately need and driving up rents across our communities,” he said.

“It is clear there needs to be additional tools to address the challenges around compliance around enforcement of local bylaws that ensure that the short-term rentals are working within communities,” he said.

“The proposed legislation that we’re bringing will make it easier for local governments to ensure that short-term rental platform hosts play by the rules and help them return much of that long-term housing back into communities.”

With studies confirming short-term rentals are contributing to housing affordability problems and in the absence of real power to regulate the industry, the City of Victoria took some action against the industry this year. Victoria council approved several changes to its short-term rental regulations.

The new Victoria regulations included increasing fines for operating without a business licence to $1,000 from $500, and to $500 from $250 for those who advertise without a licence; doubling the fine for contravening allowable use to $700; and increasing the cost of a licence for a non-principal residence to $2,500 from $1,000.

The city moved to restrict the occasional rental of someone’s entire home to four bookings per year and require those renting out their principal residence to furnish proof that the home is their principal residence.

The changes came in the wake of a study released by McGill University that found growth in the short-term rental market is driving up the cost of long-term rentals.

The researchers said short-term rentals took another 16,810 housing units out of B.C.’s long-term rental market in June, tightening up the rental market and driving up rental rates.

The study noted the addition of one dedicated short-term rental per 100 rental units in a neighbourhood contributes to an average rise in rent of $49 a month for that neighbourhood, while across the province, rents increased up to 16.6 per cent last year as a result.

The McGill study noted the short-term rental market in Victoria grew 7.4 per cent to 800 daily active listings over the past year. It said host revenue growth jumped 3.8 per cent over the last year to $4 million.

Across the Island, the number of short-term-rental listings grew 17.5 per cent to 6,310 over the last year, while host revenue grew two per cent to $29.6 million.



Williams Lake, B.C., declares state of local emergency, four homes evacuated

Four homes declared unsafe

Four homes in a Williams Lake, B.C., group of duplexes have been ordered evacuated and the remainder are on evacuation alert over concerns about their structural integrity.

In a statement late Friday, the city says it's declaring a state of local emergency as a "precautionary measure" related to the complex known as Terra Ridge.

Emergency operations director Evan Dean says the four properties were initially issued "do not occupy" orders on Sept. 15 in response to an engineering report procured by the strata.

He says the report focused on the units' structural integrity and found that they were not habitable.

Dean says the city will now bring in a geotechnical engineer and get a structural assessment done on all 80 units in the complex.

He says the evacuation alert was put in place so that everyone in the complex would be aware of what is going on and not caught off-guard.

The city says it has notified all relevant agencies and is working with provincial emergency management to address the situation.



Richmond RCMP searching for suspect in alleged sexual assault

Sex assault suspect sought

Richmond RCMP is asking for the public’s help to identify a suspect in alleged sexual assault.

The suspect allegedly approached a victim and offered to “guide him around the area” of Steveston Highway between No. 3 and No. 4 roads around 3:45 p.m. on May 13.

“The victim said as they were walking the man took hold of his hand and held it,” said Richmond RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Adriana O’Malley.

“The victim stated at one point the man allegedly placed the victim’s hand on the man’s genitalia.”

O’Malley added the victim had “pulled his hand away and immediately left the area, however, the suspect continued to loiter around.”

The suspect is described as an Asian male between 40 to 50 years old with a slim build. At the time of the incident, he was wearing grey sunglasses, a brown checkered shirt, black pants and grey and white Skechers shoes.

Anyone who may have witnessed or have information regarding this incident should contact Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212 or anonymously at Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 and quote file number 2023-14565.



More BC News